The match-up this Sunday in Washington will have no shortage of excitement as both teams boast talented rookie quarterbacks. Both signal callers have had huge roles in their respective teams playoff runs so it is safe to say that they will both play large roles in deciding who wins the game on Sunday. Along with the phenom quarterbacks, there are a few other key aspects of the game that are worth noting.
Most NFL games, especially playoff games, are won and lost in the trenches. The game Sunday should be no different, and the match-up that will be most important is the Washington offensive line against the relentless Seattle Seahawks defensive front. The Washington Redskins have done an exceptional job this season of blocking for their dynamic rookie duo of Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris, but they may have their work cut out for them on Sunday. The Seahawks defense is ranked in the top ten in both rushing and passing yards allowed per game. This success is due in large part to pass rusher extraordinaire Chris Clemons. Clemons has recorded 11.5 sacks on the year, most notably terrorizing Aaron Rodgers on Monday Night Football, a game during which the Seahawks defense held the potent Green Bay offense to just 12 points.
The Seattle Seahawks defense also features a premier speed rusher in rookie Bruce Irvin out of West Virginia. Irvin will be a key factor in whether or not the Seahawks are able to contain RGIII and Washington’s lethal pistol offense because he is one of the only players on the Seattle front that has the athleticism to keep up with Griffin.
Both teams like to rely on their run game to be the catalyst for their offenses, but their schemes are far different from each other. Seattle’s tendency to pound their All-Pro running back Marshawn Lynch has proven to be effective all season. This has allowed quarterback Russell Wilson to use the play action effectively in order to open up wider passing lanes. The Seahawks have proven that they can put up big points by working the play action pass, which should be cause for concern for a Washington defense that struggles mightily in coverage.
Washington has shown the NFL that it’s NCAA style pistol offense can work if you have the right personnel for it. Since the Redskins led the NFL in rushing yards per game this season it’s safe to say that zone reads and designed quarterback runs can in fact be effective in professional football. The key for Seattle to shut down the Redskins two headed monster in the running game will be discipline. The plays where RGIII has had the most success running the ball this season have been zone reads where he pulls the ball out of Alfred Morris’ stomach at the last possible second when he sees the defense over pursuing. The Seahawks need to make sure that they don’t allow themselves to get even a step out of position or else RGIII will make them pay for it like he has all season long.
This game will certainly not fail to entertain fans, as there are so many storylines within the match-up. This game should be closely contested, and given the fact that the Seahawks have only won three away games this season they may find it difficult to execute in crunch time. However, if the Seahawks can keep their composure in the fourth quarter despite the rowdy Washington crowd, they have all the pieces necessary to take down the NFC East champions.